Associations between the dietary inflammatory index and sleep metrics in the Energy Balance Study (EBS)

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Farrell, Emily T.
Wirth, Michael D.
McLain, Alexander C.
Hurley, Thomas G.
Shook, Robin P.
Hand, Gregory A.
Hébert, James R.
Blair, Steven N.

Farrell ET, Wirth MD, McLain AC, Hurley TG, Shook RP, Hand GA, Hébert JR, Blair SN. Associations between the Dietary Inflammatory Index and Sleep Metrics in the Energy Balance Study (EBS). Nutrients. 2023; 15(2):419.


(1) Background: Sleep, a physiological necessity, has strong inflammatory underpinnings. Diet is a strong moderator of systemic inflammation. This study explored the associations between the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII®) and sleep duration, timing, and quality from the Energy Balance Study (EBS). (2) Methods: The EBS (n = 427) prospectively explored energy intake, expenditure, and body composition. Sleep was measured using BodyMedia’s SenseWear® armband. DII scores were calculated from three unannounced dietary recalls (baseline, 1-, 2-, and 3-years). The DII was analyzed continuously and categorically (very anti-, moderately anti-, neutral, and pro-inflammatory). Linear mixed-effects models estimated the DII score impact on sleep parameters. (3) Results: Compared with the very anti-inflammatory category, the pro-inflammatory category was more likely to be female (58% vs. 39%, p = 0.02) and African American (27% vs. 3%, p < 0.01). For every one-unit increase in the change in DII score (i.e., diets became more pro-inflammatory), wake-after-sleep-onset (WASO) increased (βChange = 1.00, p = 0.01), sleep efficiency decreased (βChange = −0.16, p < 0.05), and bedtime (βChange = 1.86, p = 0.04) and waketime became later (βChange = 1.90, p < 0.05). Associations between bedtime and the DII were stronger among African Americans (βChange = 6.05, p < 0.01) than European Americans (βChange = 0.52, p = 0.64). (4) Conclusions: Future studies should address worsening sleep quality from inflammatory diets, leading to negative health outcomes, and explore potential demographic differences.

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